In July 2020 McCrum (Belfast, Maine, US) started up their new Coated French Fries production line with a capacity of 8 tons finished product an hour. The company, founded in 1886, has a rich history of adding value to the potato, from field to plate.
“This project with Kiremko and Idaho Steel was a big project for the McCrum family,” says Jay McCrum, director of McCrum. “Trust with Kiremko and Idaho Steel has grown from day one. Our family considers them as partners now. Although they are both global operating companies, the people of Kiremko and Idaho Steel take their projects personally. And that creates the right setting for success.”
On time, within budget. It’s our showpiece.
Jay McCrum looks back on a process, from first contact to final supply. “Kiremko and Idaho Steel know how it works. They created an atmosphere where we could be ourselves, to meet the future. Our success is their goal. Both Kiremko and Idaho Steel add up to the highest standards. As a customer you feel you are a part of their partnership, offering the best of both worlds.
“For us it was practical to have Idaho Steel as our supplier, because of currency, time zones, local supply, and spares. But we went through the whole sales process with Kiremko.
“It took them not more than a few seconds to find a solution in our favor. So now we started our Kiremko/Idaho Steel production line for 8 tons of French fries an hour. Within planning, within budget. Next week we are inviting two of our key customers to come over and have a look at our newest showpiece.”
A good couple
Andy Gowing, one of Kiremko’s directors, was intensively involved in the sales process. “I remember meeting Jay McCrum for the first time. We discussed the future of potato processing. And how McCrum could add a new branch to the potato family business. I invited him over to Europe, to have a look at one of our customers who just installed a new coating line, next to several other production lines, all Kiremko.”
Jay McCrum adds: “That was the first pivot point, that colorful language of yours that convinced me to come and see your equipment of there. The owner of the factory is possibly one of your best sales people, because he told me how his family business had grown in the past decades by partnering with Kiremko. So it looked like we were becoming a good couple as well.”
Idaho Steel joins the stage
“The second pivot point was our introduction to Idaho Steel. What they did was incredible. Engineering and manufacturing all key components of the production line to our needs, they also incorporated some locally sourced components which we had a preference for, such as raw receiving, optical sorting and packaging. The electrical system and controls were designed by Van den Pol, Kiremko’s strategic partner online controls and automation.”
Andy Gowing agrees: “This project stands out as a perfect example of what can be achieved when a group of companies cooperate closely with each other to deliver the best project for the customer. The cooperation was severely tested as the mechanical installation was completed just before the COVID19 virus struck, meaning that getting technicians from overseas on site for testing and start up proved impossible.
“So innovative methods had to be used, local contractors were linked on various digital platforms to programmers and technicians in remote locations this made it possible to start up the line on time, on budget and ultimately to the client’s satisfaction.”
“This remote assistance opens many possibilities for the future and was only achieved due the excellent communication and cooperation of all parties involved. It just goes to prove that difficult times promote innovation and that working together is the key to success.”
Jay McCrum: “It suddenly appeared we couldn’t meet the deadline, because of the pandemic. On July 10th 2019 we received the permits to build the project, on July 10th 2020, we turned the switch. At this moment we are in full production, on schedule with the capacity we bought. Without the creativity of Idaho Steel and Van den Pol, we wouldn’t have been able to meet that date.”
Jay McCrum turns his head to Andy Gowing: “And although the installation was partly remote, he called me at least once a week, just to catch up on things. Not a single sign of panic or frustration. They just went on and stayed on the same level of progress. Close by.”
The success in one word
“A potato processing plant with the latest technology is now in place. The way it was designed, the way it is built gives us the opportunity to reach out to customers with a phenomenal product. The business is there. But all technology fades [compared] with the commitment of the Kiremko and Idaho Steel people.
“They made this work for us. McCrum has another high-quality product range available for sale right now – that meets our family standard, the level our customers expect. If I have to catch the success of this project in one word”, Jay McCrum states, “I would call it camaraderie.”